I strongly remember that there were a lot of Nikkei students in my elementary school in Mie. The number of the Nikkei students was over 30 at that time. It means that four to five students were Nikkei students in each class. Most of them were from Brazil and their grandfathers were Japanese so they had a Japanese last name. The reason why there were so many Nikkei people in my hometown was because there are a lot of factories near my hometown like Honda or Sharp. And the second reason was the prefectural housing, which they could live in a low price and they are located in my hometown.
The teachers of my school liked to teach us cross-cultural understandings, so we often learned about the culture in Brazil. Sometimes the class was held in Portuguese and I remember that I didn’t understand anything. Because of those lectures, all of the Japanese students in my school thought Nikkei students were Brazilian and different from Japanese. And also the Nikkei students understood that they were Nikkei but different from Japanese. So Nikkei students didn’t play with the Japanese students and they played with Nikkei students and spoke Portuguese. The situation was not so bad until they enter the middle school. In that elementary school, there was special Japanese class for Nikkei students so they can learn Japanese. But there weren’t in the middle school, and also the classes became difficult than in elementary school so they couldn’t catch up. As a result, many of them dropped out from school and became delinquents. I don’t know what they are doing now, but I really think it is a sad situation. I know some of the Nikkei students studied hard and entered high school or even university but they are minority.
The prefectures that have high population of Nikkei people have to think about the education for them. Before taking this Japanese Society class, I thought that it was good thing that the teachers taught us about the culture of Brazil or Portuguese to know their culture, but after the class of Ha-Fu and Nikkei things, I felt it made them feel different from us. But on the other side, they were born in Brazil and they should keep their culture and we need to know about it. Well… was it right or wrong?
by Misaki Fukada